Monthly Military: Oshkosh LVSR

When Oshkosh launched the original Logistics Vehicle System in 1985 by for use by the United States Marine Corps, the design of that heavy tactical vehicle system differed from the Army’s Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck (HEMTT) in two key ways – modularity and mobility. In contrast to the HEMTT, the LVS offered the capability of interchanging front power units and rear body units, which meant far more flexibility in terms of tailoring the vehicle’s capability to specific missions.

Used primarily by the United States Marine Corp, the eight-wheel drive LVS was a robust and capable machine in the 1980s and 90s. However, changes in battlefield requirements began to show the inherent weaknesses in the design. Issues like IED attack survivability and mobility in the type of mountainous terrain found in Afghanistan became an increasing concern in the early years of the post-9/11 conflicts. Image: Wiki Commons

The LVS also featured a standard wheel pivoting steering system that worked in conjunction with hydraulic yaw steering. This allowed the front unit to articulate against the rear unit, reducing the turning radius and improving overall mobility.

The eight-wheeled LVS design expanded to include two different front power units and five rear body units. The robust design resulted in payload capacities of up to 50,000 pounds on-road. This made the LVS the go-to option when heavy duty hauling was required.

As capable as the LVS was, the USMC saw where improvements could be made. In the late 1990s, the search was on for a suitable replacement. The process took a bit longer than anticipated – after several years of evaluation and considering whether they should extensively overhaul the LVS or simply replace it altogether, Oshkosh finally announced in 2004 that they’d been given the green light by Uncle Sam to develop three LVSR (Logistics Vehicle System Replacement) prototypes for USMC testing.

Though they’re aesthetically similar, the LVSR featured a multitude of improvements over its predecessor. These included self-leveling suspension, a feature that went a long way in eliminating the tipping problem with the top-heavy MK 48 line. Image: Oshkosh

After initial testing was completed, Oshkosh was awarded the contract to build the first production LVSR trucks in 2006 – a batch of 22 examples in various configurations. A few years would pass before these ten-wheeled behemoths saw use in operations though, with the LVSR making its field debut in Afghanistan in September 2009.

“To me, it’s a big Tonka toy,” said James Stradling, the heavy mobile supervisor for the LVSR line. “It’s massive, it’s strong, you can abuse it, and it’ll keep on trucking. It’s designed to go off-roading and be abused. You can take it into any type of terrain you’re willing to take it to so you can get equipment and supplies to the warfighter.”

To me, it’s a big Tonka toy. It’s massive, it’s strong, you can abuse it, and it’ll keep on trucking. It’s designed to go off-roading and be abused. You can take it into any type of terrain you’re willing to take it to so you can get equipment and supplies to the warfighter. -James Stradling

Design and Specification

Like the LVS, the primary function of the LVSR family of vehicles is heavy-duty cargo transport, which can include anything from shipping containers, foldable bridges, and smaller vehicles, to combat equipment and basic supplies.

Platform flexibility and ease of maintenance were other aspects of the LVSR's design that engineers went to great lengths to improve. The engine, transmission, transfer case, boom, and the hydraulics for the suspension all use the same specification of oil, greatly simplifying maintenance in the field. All LVSR equipment is interchangeable amongst the variants, too, which also makes the vehicles highly adaptable to changing mission parameters. Images: Oshkosh, Military Today, Military Mashup

Weighing in at roughly 25 tons unloaded, in standard cargo configuration the LVSR measures 36 feet in length, 8.2 feet in width and eight and a half feet in height. Oshkosh’s TAK-4 independent suspension is used on all five axles, with coil springs on the front unit and a hydraulic system on the rear unit.

The two-seater front cab was designed to be equipped with heavy armor from the outset. It can be added or removed when needed with basic hand tools.

Another area of focus when designing the LVSR was occupant protection from IEDs. The heavily armored crew capsule of an LVSR weighs 5500 pounds alone. The two-man cab also features a ring mount in the roof to adapt a machine gun or other equipment as needed. Images: DVIDS

Nestled under the cab (to keep the cooling system protected and free of debris) is the 600-horsepower Caterpillar C15 turbodiesel engine. It is hooked to a seven-speed Allison 4700SP automatic gearbox with a single-speed Oshkosh-sourced transfer case. The combination gives the big hauler a top speed of 65 miles per hour, and a 22.5-ton on-road and 16.5-ton off-road payload capacity.

Motivation comes from a Caterpillar C15, a twin-turbocharged diesel mill that generates 600 horsepower and more than 2,000 pound-feet of torque. It’s paired up with an Allison seven-speed automatic gearbox and an Oshkosh single-speed transfer case. Image: Caterpillar

Outfitted with a 166-gallon fuel tank, the LVSR has an operational range of 300 miles. Considering its size, the LVSR is surprisingly maneuverable, and is a robust off-road machine. It’s able to climb gradients up to 60 percent, ford through water five feet deep, and handle various types of inhospitable terrain thanks in part to its central tire inflation system. It also has a steering system that controls both the front two axles, as well as the rear two of the three axles outfitted to the rear unit.

The LVSR can also be quickly deployed to distant locations by way of airlift by either C-5A Galaxy or C-17 Globemaster III aircraft.


The LVSR is currently produced in three distinct iterations, all of which focus on heavy equipment transport.

The MKR18 Cargo features an integrated load handling system capable of loading and unloading a payload up to 22.5 tons. This version of the LVSR is equipped with a Multilift load handling system and is capable of lifting and carrying up to 20-foot long containers that weigh up to 50,000 pounds, or it can be outfitted with a flat rack so it can haul vehicles on the bed. Showcasing the modularity of the LVSR’s design, the boom equipped to the Cargo variant provides it with the capability to rescue stuck vehicles, while swapping out the flat rack in favor of a troop carrier can provide transport for up to 20 passengers.

Left to right: the Oshkosh LVSR MKR18 Cargo, MKR16 Tractor, and MKR15 Wrecker. Though all three variants' designs focus on heavy duty transport, each features equipment for a specialized task. Images: Oshkosh

As the name implies, the MKR15 Wrecker variant was designed with disabled vehicle recovery in mind. Able to haul a vehicle weighing up to 110,000 pounds on the flat bed or lift and tow a 96,000-pound vehicle, the Wrecker is outfitted with rear-mounted winches with a 78,000-pound combined straight-pull rating. Up front, a 20,000-pound self-recovery winch is available.

The MMRS demonstrator features five spades, including one large rear spade for stable winching operations. Its recovery system utilizes a three-section boom that extends 41 feet with operating angles ranging from 3 to 60 degrees. The boom can lift up to 75,000 pounds at a 13-foot radius from the vehicle. Image: Oshkosh

Typically used in conjunction with the M870A2 semi-trailer, the MKR16 Tractor variant is capable of towing loads of up to roughly 45 tons on-road and is equipped with a 60,000 lb. self-recovery winch to winch equipment onto the trailer.

More than 2,000 examples of the LVSR have been built to date. They’re not only for the Marines, but for the United States Air Force and Navy as well. The majority of these vehicles have been ordered in the Cargo configuration.

More recently, the Multi-Mission Recovery System (MMRS) prototype was developed by Oshkosh as a demonstrator vehicle. Based on the LVSR, the focus of the MMRS design is heavy-duty vehicle recovery. It features a Jerr-Dan 50-ton rotating boom that extends more than 41 feet, allowing for the retrieval and towing of MRAPs, as well as some of the largest tactical wheeled vehicles currently in use.

While an MKR15 wrecker can be airlifted by the C-5A Galaxy and C-17 Globemaster III as-is, with additional preparation the C-141 Starlifter can also be used for transport.

While Oshkosh continues to develop the platform, Stradling says the main goal of these vehicles will always remain the same. “The most important job we have is that everything going out to the Marine Corps and other branches of the military makes the occupants as safe as possible,” he said. “All of the artisans have the single-minded goal to make sure that it works the way it’s intended to. We put out a quality product so that the Marines that go out to the field come back alive.”

About the author

Bradley Iger

Lover of noisy cars, noisy music, and noisy bulldogs. Brad can often be found flogging something expensive along the twisting tarmac of the Angeles Forest.
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